Esports is an immense, flourishing world filled with possibility. Are you ready to begin your competitive esports journey but don’t know where to begin? Here are some of the best tips and tricks to start your esports odyssey!
Video games have been a booming phenomenon since Pong graced computer screens in the ’70s. Since then, video games have evolved to become an ever-elusive and expanding ecosystem of entertainment. Esports, the growing professional sport of competing in various video games, has begun to take center stage as viewers and participants alike rally together under an already social distanced past time. From competitive to casual, computer to console, with hundreds of contrasting video games to choose from in between, esports is an exploding industry because of its diverse options and its soaring profitability. As one considering involvement and interest in competitive video games but late to board the esports train, the question may arise: where do I begin? Well, here’s your golden ticket. Let me be your guiding Willy Wonka through this Chocolate Factory of esports! Let’s start with picking out a platform for your esports passage.
1. Where Do I Play?
In order to begin competing in esports, the first decision that must be made is on what device should you play: PC or Console?
PCs, like Mac or Microsoft, have many reasons why they are the primary platform for the esports world. First off, PCs are built to be powerful devices that can be upgraded whenever because new PCs and PC parts come out multiple times a year. Upgradeable graphics cards (chips inserted into the computer that alter how crystal clear the image is) and sturdy frame rates (the rate per second that the screen’s picture displays at) are two of the biggest advantages over consoles that PCs have. Like the best helmet, cleats and gloves are important performance boosters for a football player, things like graphics and frame rates are essential for esports players because they rely on a steady picture to project crucial second-to-second gameplay. Another reason why PC is the central hub for esports is that PC is home to exclusive games that consoles don’t have access to such as Dota 2, League of Legends, and StarCraft II. These three games are consistently among the top ten esports games every year. Cross-platform games (games playable through both PC and console) like Fortnite have professional competitors from both PC and console try out for their World Cup tournaments, but a vast majority of the time, none of the console players make it past the qualifiers. All this to say, PC is the best place for esports.
Just because PC is the standard for esports doesn’t mean console esports don’t exist. The three main consoles: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch, are all host to specific esports competitions that PC isn’t privy to. PlayStation is home to the world-famous Call of Duty league, Xbox presents their competitive Halo Championship Series, and Nintendo Switch is the only place to find Super Smash Bros competitions. Consoles aren’t as competitive as PC because they come out every seven to ten years, meaning the graphics, frame rates, and general performance of the console are set until the next version comes out. Competing for a seven-year-old console that can’t be upgraded past its base model versus the yearly upgradeable PC with its branching makes and models results in no contest. However, consoles are generally much cheaper than PCs, offering a launchpad for gamers to get their feet wet into esports. If you are unsure where to start your esports journey, PC is the place to be; but, if you want a specific game or are looking for more of a casual experience, a console is a way to go. (If you need help deciding which console, check out my PS5 vs. Xbox Series X blog).
2. Finding the Right Game
After you have decided what platform is right for you, picking which game (or games) you are interested in competing in can be tricky. Because of the sheer amount of competitive games, two categories can help you decide where to look: a genre of game and prize money (…don’t look at me like that. We are all thinking it!). The genres of esports games are:
Fighting games (like Mortal Kombat)
First-person shooters (like Call of Duty)
Third-person shooters (like Fortnite)
MOBA or multiplayer online battle arena (like League of Legends)
Racing games (like Gran Turismo)
Real-time strategy games (like StarCraft II)
Sports games (like FIFA)
Other category games (like Hearthstone)
The best way to figure out what game and game type is best for you is an infinitely crippling series of hops and hurtles that require extra— no, just kidding, the answer is to play them. We all gravitate to what we like and esports is the same way. Looking at which games are the most popular (AKA produces the most money) can also help you choose. With new games releasing yearly, each esports year looks a little different, but consistent top fives like Dota 2, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive generate (multiple) hundred thousands of prize money to winners and losers alike. Finding your preferred game genre and looking at what games offer the most bang for your buck is a great way to narrow down which games you want to focus your craft around.
3. Join a Club (and Make Friends!)
Every sport is more fun with friends. Esports is no different. If you want to begin running, the best way to do it and stick to it is to go with a partner. If you want to start bowling, you have to find friends that want to compete with you. I have never heard anybody ever say that soccer is better alone than with friends. Here is a list of the advantages of joining an esports club:
- Friends that support, guide, mentor, and critic while also celebrating wins and agonizing losses over your shared passion
- Available coaching
- Scheduled practicing hours in a non-distracting environment
- Club or school equipment like computers and headsets
- Financial advantage from tournament winnings and potential college scholarships
- Safe space to practice and improve
Joining an esports club is a step towards success if you want to get into esports.
4. Watch and Learn from Professionals
Similar to how football teams watch footage of their game to improve their overall strategy, esports players have access to a boundless library of informational videos on any video game from numerous professional esporters. YouTube is an excellent resource for those looking to watch and study professional esports players masterfully execute skills in their game. There are many channels on YouTube that offer informative comments about the specific moves, decisions, and strategies of esports players so that aspiring players can learn and test the skills for themselves. Twitch, a website just like YouTube but specifically for video games, is another excellent avenue for players looking to expand their knowledge and expertise of specific games. You can follow any specific gamer or game and watch in real-time as people play the games you wish to get great at. From there, you can assess which strategies you want to try yourself or see mistakes that you now know to avoid. Watching professional esporters will grant you the knowledge to boost your own experience of the game.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
You’ve heard it before, “practice makes perfect”. Again, in esports, that is no different. If you want to get into esports, the best medicine is to practice and practice some more. Ian Steenbergen, a member of our own Coastline Esports Club, who started his passion for esports playing Rainbow Six Siege says that “it will take time to learn a game and get really good at it, so don’t feel discouraged if you aren’t … performing well”. Everything takes time; you can’t expect to go from a leisurely, green caterpillar to an experienced, unfettered butterfly in a few days, or even a few months when talking about esports. If you join an esports club, take advice from esports friends, watch esports game footage, and practice, you will be on your way to competing in esports tournaments and creating lasting memories in a community you’re passionate about.
6. The Next Level (Bonus Round!)
After you have ascended the introductory esport ladder, the view from the top has much to offer. Once you begin playing on a club and have earned your spot in professional ranked play, you can participate in global esports events and tournaments that offer prize money to participates and winners alike. Since esports is an online sport, events can take place all over the world and still happen in your living room. You can find esports events and tournaments with a quick Google search of all esports in general, or, if you know what game you want to compete in, you can dive into that specific game and learn all about the events and tournaments surrounding it to participate. As previously touched on, the money surrounding esports is accelerating. Syracuse University projects that in 2021 “there will be 84 million viewers of esports, higher than the 79 million MLB viewers or the 63 million NBA viewers”. With more viewers comes more sponsors and with more sponsors comes more revenue. And yearly, with top esporters collecting over one million dollars, the players ranked towards the five hundred areas walking away with around fifty thousand dollars, and leagues offering their players a salary, the future for professional esports is big, bright, and green.
It is never too late to join esports. Now that you have survived the tour and learned all about how to get involved and succeed in esports, I, Willy Wonka, gift you with the key to the Factory. The knowledge of how to begin your esports expedition is yours to keep. You may now explore the wonderful world of esports. Whether it’s through PC or console, competitive or casual, racing or fighting, or anything else, the choice is yours. Wherever you choose to go, excitement awaits you and your esports journey.